LAS VEGAS. Declaring the roll out of fresh highway and vocational truck models along with the birth of a new engine family “truly the start of a new era for Mack,” president & CEO Paul Vikner said that 2005 will end up a “very strong year” for Class 8 sales for Mack and the industry in general and that sales in 2006 will “continue to be strong.”
Vikner, speaking at a press conference during Mack’s World Sales Conference here, said he doesn’t see the heavy-duty truck build rate climber much higher than it stands today “due to supplier [capacity] issues and the recognition industry-wide that there will eventually be a downturn” in the truck market.
Vikner did not outright say when he thinks that tipping point will likely be reached. He commented directly only on OEM prospects for 2005-2006, stating that “a lot will happen between now and 2007 and we don’t want to create expectations [either way].”
But when the downturn comes, Vikner said it would be a smoother disruption for truck makers to transition over than the last one that struck [2000-2001] because “OEMs and suppliers are now taking what I’d call a much more responsible position on investing [in manufacturing facilities] vs. what happened in the last boom cycle.”
As for why truck sales should remain buoyant through 2006, Vikner gave most of the credit to the general economy. He said he questions how much of a “pre buy” there will be in ’06 by fleets seeking to avoid buying new EPA ’07 emissions-compliant engines the following year.
“We think most fleets will look at what trucks they will need in early ’07 and maybe push [only] those onto ’06. We don’t expect people will be buying trucks a year in advance.”
In light of the introduction of two new trucks and a new engine line, Vikner said there was “a clearly defined commitment to the Mack brand” by the OEM’s corporate parent, Gothenburg, Sweden-based AB Volvo.
He emphasized that the “customer bases are different” for the two OEM brands—“that’s why a Mack is a Mack and a Volvo is a Volvo.”